A look at which teams have won the most races so far this season and the big names come to the fore already, more than ever they’re squeezing out the others with the top three WorldTeams have half the wins so far this season. Rival teams wanting to challenge this, or just maintain their spot in the World Tour, are now in the busy season for recruitment.
Deceuninck-Quickstep lead the table again and if anything the surprise is that they are not further ahead as they’ve had 15 wins but also 13 second places and 11 wins and traditionally they’ve had an odd distribution of podium places with a big skew towards winning. Put simply they’ve won more often than they’ve placed. It looks like the sponsors are onboard for five more years – more longer term planning and stability in the sport – and Remco Evenepoel seems part of this, that the team could dangle him in front of sponsors as an asset to back. Indeed the 15 wins so far this year are obviously without prolific scorers Evenepoel and Fabio Jakobsen.
Jumbo-Visma are next and also achieve their tally without Dylan Groenewegen, whose ban ends shortly, and Tom Dumoulin who’s on a sabbatical. They’re doing the Quickstep trick of winning more than placing, with 13 wins and as many second and third places and their best riders for wins this year are Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard, on four each.
Ineos keep racking up the wins but have made the news as much for the wrong reasons with the incendiary news from the UK medical hearings and the team management seem determined to hunker down and hope it all blows over. Their best rider so far this year is Filippo Ganna on three wins and Adam Yates and Ivan Sosa on two each and of course they have plenty more riders who are bound to win in the coming weeks and months as the sport switches focus from one day events to stage races, the team’s speciality. But grand tours? A lot hinges on getting Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas back to peak shape and while the team has the biggest budget by far it looks like they don’t have the very best riders any more.
UAE Emirates are next and part of the quartet of big budget squads and is now a long way from the old Lampre incarnation with a big budget and a voracious appetite for recruiting young talent, Brandon McNulty might have lost the Tour of the Basque Country but he’s only just turned 23. Tadej Pogačar has taken five wins so far and increasingly looks like the rider to beat at the Tour de France given his ability in time trials but the weak point is his team, they might lament “only” recruiting veteran Rafał Majka as support over winter. Marc Hirschi’s joined but can he be pressed into service?
Trek-Segafredo come next with seven wins, decent against the others so far and compared to 2020 when they had ten wins in total. They crave a win in Flanders or Roubaix but would surely be delighted to settle with Jasper Stuyven’s Milan-Sanremo win. We’re likely to see more changes with Nibali’s contract up, do they renew (presumably on reduced terms) or does The Shark swim elsewhere? Talk about 2022 rosters is not premature, teams are busy planning now and the star riders who consume the most budget are the first to be addressed.
Lotto-Soudal are on five wins. The spring classics are often a barren spot for the Belgian team, they tend to win some early season races in Spain and France before resuming wins again in May, it’s been this way for years. Caleb Ewan’s probably still the best sprinter in the world although Sam Bennett’s supporters might have a word or three to say here.
Bora-Hansgrohe are on just three wins yet are mid-table, testimony to how the top teams above them are monopolising the wins. The German team ought to have more given they’ve got riders capable of winning anything from sprints to summit finishes although one of them was a big win in Paris-Nice with Max Schachmann, albeit sans a stage win and more down to Roglič losing the race. Fourth on the table last year, their house sprinter Pascal Ackermann has yet to score and has been chasing his tail a bit, a period of snow at home meant he missed training before the UAE Tour and has looked short ever since. The big question is to renew Peter Sagan’s contract but it’s not a yes/no matter, more how much? If it’s on current terms then nein as he’s paid a lot but his win rate has fallen off a cliff and publicity wise the likes of Mathieu van der Poel have eclipsed him. But he could have a role if he stays, especially with Specialized as the deal broker.
Groupama-FDJ are on three and one of them thanks to Arnaud Démare in the recent Roue Tourangelle, showing up with his full leadout train was a bit like arriving at school picnic with a fleet of food trucks. David Gaudu by contrast can celebrate a good win in the Tour of Basque Country, he took two wins in the Vuelta from the early breakaway, this time he won by making the selection among the leaders.
Israel are on three wins and all eyes still on Chris Froome’s form and whether he can improve, he’s starting the Tour of the Alps in a week’s time.
Astana have two, they’re another team built for stage races. With Canadian horticultural firm Premier Tech now owning half the squad it’ll be interesting to see where they go next in terms of recruitment and image.
Bike Exchange have two, with Esteban Chaves making a return to winning ways and as ever the team is hunting for a new backer as Bike Exchange is a small company with revenue many times smaller than the team budget. Team owner Gerry Ryan remains the real sponsor.
Cofidis are off to a roaring start with two wins, or at least they’ve already matched their tally from last year. Thierry Vittu, the marketing and personnel manager at Cofidis announced a sponsorship extension and the team would stay in the sport until 2025 and among the goals was to move up from the 19th ranked World Tour team… to the 16th, commendable realism. The sponsor has a big interest in Slovakia and if Elia Viviani’s contract is up… well there’s a high profile Slovak rider on the market.
Among those on one win, yes Bahrain are victorious. The moniker is a label, a brand for the country and they have it on a Parisian soccer team too but in cycling, a sport where Deceuninck “only” win 20% of the races they start, it’s ripe for mockery. Their more substantial problem is the roster, a lot of very good riders but few to land big wins beyond Dylan Teuns and Mikel Landa with the Basque always an exciting prospect but his win rate per year is less than one per season now.
Ag2r Citroën have one thanks to Aurélien Paret-Peintre’s GP La Marseillaise and they did hire Marc Sarreau who could score more in the smaller Coupe de France races but has been discreet so far. Thanks to Citroën they are a big budget team now. A portion of this has gone on recruiting Greg Van Avermaet and Bob Jungels but they’ve got more to spend: who to recruit? Ag2r are a French sponsor so a Frenchman would be nice but it’s not as essential, less so with Citroën which sells across Europe. But who or perhaps first, what role: a sprinter, a stage racer, a climber? These are crowded niches already.
DSM ought to have had more wins but as they won stages of the Giro and Tour last year we’ll see if they can repeat. Meanwhile Movistar continue to baffle at times as they mass on the front of a race only to fade when the winning move forms but Alejandro Valverde who is back to winning ways.
As the only WorldTeam without a win, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert deny they’re in a crisis says Belgium newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. There would be a crisis if they had a team capable of winning a lot but as they don’t, there isn’t one. They have only one podium so far this season with Andrea Pasqualon’s third place in the GP Le Samyn and it’s hard to see where the win comes from, probably a breakaway but that’s already a tough ask. The team made a late bid to join the World Tour, the test is how they plan to stay there and we’ll see who they recruit.
Finally the Pro Teams, the confusing UCI label for cycling’s second tier as Deceuninck-Quickstep is a pro team but not a ProTeam. The story is of very slim pickings but Alpecin-Fenix are the exception, they lead the way on eight wins, four thanks to Mathieu van der Poel but more from Tim Merlier and Jasper Philipsen and they’re a giant squad of 32 riders now and effectively a World Tour team given they get automatic invites and are scoring enough points to ensure they’ll so so next year and by most measures they’re a superior outfit to some World Tour squads. They’re a template of how to race in the World Tour without being a WorldTeam, nor riding under a flag hoping for invitations to a domestic grand tour.
There’s a big drop-off now Wallonie-Pauwels have two, Vini Zabù have one and so do Rally and that’s it for the second division. Vini Zabù’s sprinter Jakub Mareczko got on and now they’ve stopped racing on self-imposed ban, a pointless act of self-flagellating ahead of the UCI’s review of their multiple doping cases as the self-suspension doesn’t count. A likely suspension looks will should see them sit out the Giro, their raison d’être. Androni-Sidermec boss Gianni Savio might hope for an invite but he’s blasted RCS in the media and will be lucky to get an invite for the Gran Piemonte. The absents are Arkéa-Samsic, Total Direct Energie and B&B Hotels who ought to have had a win, at least between them.
- Methodology: *.1 wins and above count, ancillary competitions like points or mountains competitions don’t and a rider must be riding for their team, for example Ryan Gibbons’ two wins in the African championships count for him but not the UAE Emirates as he was racing for South Africa.